Saturday, February 21, 2009

15 Efficient e-Portfolio Tools

As more and more educators bring rich learning opportunities to their students, it makes sense for us to engage students in the creation of electronic portfolios of their work. Although there are a number of 'pay-for-service' sites and content management systems that are up to the task, there are also a number of free and low cost alternatives that can be leveraged by teachers and students in order to demonstrate their personal and professional competencies.

Whether you're looking for a place to share group portfolios, to publicize culminating performances, or to encourage students to post personal learning histories, it may be well worth your while to become familiar with one or more of these tools:

Posterous: Thanks to the fact that students and teachers can post content by simply emailing all manner of media to their custom blog address, this tool is now at the top of my list. Automate the embedding of audio files, documents, and recorded video on your custom site.

ScrapBlog: In using the concept of electronic 'scrapbook', this tool may be the easiest for your charges to understand. Rich templates professionalize the photo and video work of students, and the results can be shared in many ways.

PBWiki: The humble wiki can play a lead role in allowing students to gather their work either individually, or as members of a group. Through a universally understood edit and share format, a variety of wiki tools are available, for use by schools.

WetPaint: My favourite wiki tool can be made 'ad-free' for educational purposes by simply drafting an email request to WetPaint wikis make it easy to create community around evolving projects, and the inviting 'easy edit' button and WYSIWYG editor make it easy for anyone to contribute.

Wix: If you want a look and feel that's sure to be a hit with young people, this site engages animated menus and rich templates to embed all types of media. Although the site is in beta release, you can do things you can't do in traditional wikis & blogs, like rotating media to play on custom angles!

Carbonmade: One of only a few tools designed specifically for e-portfolios, this free online app allows you to showcase images, flash media, or video. Creators can conveniently add text explanations or artist statements to pieces that appear on the site.

Weebly: If you're looking for simple drag and drop utility in a web-based interface, this page creation tool can help you to highlight your digital work, or to bring attention to the multimedia creations of your students.

WebNode: This tool is another free WYSIWYG page editor that allows you to post media into a number of ready-made templates.

SimplyBox: If you require your students to pull together pieces from across the world wide web, this solution can be leveraged to highlight one's own online work, while referencing other sources that may have inspired the work.

Google Sites: If you're a fan of Google services for email and document creation, it makes sense to familiarize yourself with the free site creation tools available to registered users. Before going in too deep, familiarize yourself with the terms of service.

Viewbook: If you're looking for a place to host photos, or scans of student artwork, and have a budget to do so, this tool's professional-looking interface may be your solution.

Jalbum: This free alternative allows you to organize photos or scans in an offline layout, and then to post your work in the Jalbum community or elsewhere. The album creation software is free to download and to use. More than file sharing, this site uses a simple and clean interface to embed all types of media for playback or download.

DropBox: While this resource is traditionally effective for sharing desktop files 'in the cloud', it can also be used to help students collect their work into one online location.

For those looking for an e-portfolio reference to share with colleagues, you might find what you're looking for in the JISC document Effective Use of e-Portfolios.

Are there other e-portfolio tools you'd recommend?

Photo Credit: Lionel Torres


Anonymous said...

Great article! While I love most of these services, we would be remiss to not discuss the fact that many of these free options may not be around in the next couple of years. I guess the moral would be "choose wisely" if you are looking for a long term solution for an e-portfolio.

Sara Best said...

Thanks for sharing these! Voicethread and Synthasite are other good ones. I agree w/the comment about apps. A solution is to create content separely. If an application is discontinued, digital images, videos, files, slideshows, etc. can be uploaded to another eportfolio tool. Don't let the content be dependent on the app.

Rodd Lucier said...

Thanks for adding your advice to the mix Chris and Sara. While new tools continue to emerge we have to be realistic in recognizing the long term limitations of start-ups.

I'm currently testing Fotonauts as a hybrid off-line/online tool, but the advice about backing up your raw content cannot be overstated!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this list Rodd, it gives me some more tools to try out and share.



kcbrady said...

The Keep Toolkit from The Carnegie Foundation is a portfolio creation tool open to all. I believe Carnegie is looking for someone to take over the hosting of the site.

Rodd Lucier said...

Lots going on with 'Keep'!
Thanks for the link:

Alex Francisco said...

Thank you for sharing these. I think LiveBinders is a good bet too. Here is a practical example:

Anonymous said...

Very informative article, thank you for your suggestions and tips.
Web Designer Web development

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing!
Can you recommend any ePortfolio sites exclusive for teacher portfolios? Are there any websites where big numbers of teachers are posting their portfolios together in the same place?

Rodd Lucier said...

I know that a number of teachers are gravitating towards blogs as a way to keep a history of their personal learning, but I don't know of any other tools that are any better suited to educators. If you or your colleagues are interested in hosting graphics, photos, text, audio and or video, I'd highly recommend as the simplest way to share content in blog format.